The Disney Afternoon Collection Review: A Blast From The Past

Capcom /

Relive some of your favorite memories from the NES era in The Disney Afternoon Collection.

Developer: Digital Eclipse
Publisher: Capcom, Disney Interactive Studios
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (version reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Release Date: April 18th, 2017

Odds are, if you were a kid growing up in the 90s (or someone who was a teenager who still enjoyed cartoons), you were into the pretty seminal “Disney Afternoon.” The “Disney Afternoon” was a two-hour block of exquisitely animated cartoons featuring a pretty wide range of characters over the years. You had series like Ducktales, which featured Scrooge McDuck recklessly endangering his nephews in search of treasure, or my personal favorite, Darkwing Duck, where an egotistical Batman-inspired duck superhero beats up silly criminals.

And when the cartoons weren’t on, there were games to play based on many of these beloved animated shows. Many of them were on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Of course, games based on beloved cartoons were hardly anything new. But if you know the rule of licensed games, it’s that they are generally utter garbage. Most of the games based on the Disney Afternoon shows though? They seemed to be the exception. Ducktales and Chip n Dale Rescue Rangers especially were regarded as classics and still are to this day.

Unfortunately, since they were old NES games based on Disney properties, a lot of those games seemed like they might never be released on current consoles in any fashion. But lo and behold, The Disney Afternoon Collection was announced virtually out of nowhere and is out on PC and current consoles (except Nintendo Switch, unfortunately) this week.

The Disney Afternoon Collection gives you a six-pack of games based on the most popular Disney cartoon shows of the 90s: Ducktales, Ducktales II, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers II, Darkwing Duck and Talespin. For most of us who played these games in the 90s, it sounds like a dream come true to play them on current hardware.

Capcom/Disney Interactive Entertainment
Capcom/Disney Interactive Entertainment /

Of course, the questions with almost any retro collection such is this are: do the games hold up, and have they been given the kind of attention to warrant such a collection?

As far as the games holding up, I think the games presented in The Disney Afternoon Collection remain as good as they ever were. If they were great, they remain great. If they were bad, they were that when they released and it isn’t a factor of not aging well like some games.

The good news about that is I feel the majority of these games remain good to great. Ducktales and Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers specifically are fun doses of great platforming action games that any fan of 2D platformers or retro gaming, in general, should play. Their somewhat forgotten respective sequels are good as well, but it’s really just more of the same. There aren’t really any new abilities or tricks in them. That’s not a bad thing, but maybe they could’ve put some different games in there that were still developed by Capcom and based on afternoon Disney cartoon shows such as Goof Troop or Bonkers.

Darkwing Duck is essentially a Mega Man clone. It’s even built in the same engine. It’s an extremely competent clone, but missing the gathering of power-ups to defeat different enemies in various ways. Without that element, this kind of game just seems a little too simple. But it’s still a competent Darkwing Duck video game, which is my favorite Disney cartoon series ever, so I still enjoy it quite a bit.

Talespin is the most unique, and also sadly the real stinker of the collection. It’s got a pretty cool gimmick where it’s a 2D scrolling shooter, but you can turn back around to shoot at enemies behind you and pick up treasure and items. This could’ve been great, but the game is filled with incredibly cheap hits and you fire way too slowly to be effective. That was bad in the 90s and it hasn’t changed.

Capcom/Disney Interactive Entertainment
Capcom/Disney Interactive Entertainment /

So, that’s how the games hold up today. But with a collection of these great games, hopefully, we get plenty of modern upgrades and extras right? Well, I feel like Capcom meets us halfway there.  Each game has “Boss Rush” mode where you, of course, skip the levels and just fight the bosses, as well as a “Time Attack Mode” where you beat the game as fast as possible and compare your times online in leaderboards. I wish there was more online functionality included, like the option to do two-player races, or online co-op in the Rescue Rangers games, which are two-player.

The games are remastered in 1080p and look pretty crisp, but still suffer from some bad slowdown problems when the screens get busy with several enemies. Was this how the games originally were? Sure. Should there be an option to play games that require fairly precise button-pressing without slowdown? Absolutely.

Arguably the biggest gameplay feature added is the “Rewind” feature. You can rewind your game session at any time as far back as you like. Made a bad move and died? You don’t have to lose a life, you can just rewind. This is actually a pretty cool feature if you are just playing a game for fun and don’t feel the need to rush through it in a few lives or are trying to speed run it. I would’ve also liked save states as an option, but given each of these games is under an hour long, it’s not that big a deal.

Then there’s the gallery feature. This is pretty well-fleshed out in general with lots of concept art, box art from different companies, and advertisements, along with interesting notes accompanying each feature. Some video content would be nice though. For example, a commercial for Ducktales is mentioned with screens shown. Why is there no video? Also, interviews would be nice, video or otherwise. Developers who made the games or were heavily influenced by them would’ve been great to hear from.

Capcom /

I believe that when you are putting a bunch of retro games into a collection for release, it either needs to be everything including the kitchen sink, or the absolute cream of the crop. It’s arguable that Capcom could’ve replaced Talespin, which is absolutely wretched, with any of several other games from either the 8 or 16-bit era. But The Disney Afternoon Collection contains two absolute classics and three very good games that might well be considered the cream of the crop in this particular instance of Disney NES games. If you are looking for some good nostalgia that actually delivers, The Disney Afternoon Collection is certainly worth picking up.

The Disney Afternoon Collection. 8.0. The Disney Afternoon Collection is nostalgia done right. While it could have been a little more fully featured, it contains several classics games absolutely worth revisiting, or even checking out for the very first time.. Capcom.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.